Credit: ESPN

For a few minutes following the fracas towards the end of Sunday’s SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament championship game, college basketball fans were stunned by a revelation about LSU Tigers and South Carolina Gamecocks player eligibility in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Turned out, however, that it was clarified as incorrect. Eventually.

The epic SEC showdown between the undefeated Gamecocks and talented Tigers lived up to the hype but was marred by a scuffle that broke out with two minutes left in the game. LSU’s Flau’jae Johnson tried to stop MiLaysia Fulwiley’s steal and ended up fouling her, which led to South Carolina’s Kamilla Cardoso pushing Johnson to the ground. LSU’s Hailey Van Lith then confronted Cardoso, which led to benches clearing.

In the ensuing minutes, officials tried to make sense of the situation, including who would be ejected from the game. In the end, two LSU players and four South Carolina players were ejected, including Cardoso. All of the players who left the bench were also ejected from the game.

That’s when ESPN announcer Courtney Lyle chimed in to let audiences know that every player who had been ejected would now be ineligible to play in the first round of the 2024 NCAA Tournament.

“Also important, every player that was just ejected will not be able to play in the first round of the NCAA Tournament,” said Lyle.

“That means that South Carolina will have one sub in the first round and LSU will start the first round with five players, pending if Last-Tear Poa is available to play when the NCAA Tournament starts,” added analyst Carolyn Peck.

That was a shocking revelation with huge ramifications. The idea that both teams would essentially have to have all of their eligible players play the entire game would surely have a massive impact, even against a lesser opponent. The news immediately sent shockwaves through the college basketball world.

However, it turns out that some wires had gotten crossed somewhere along the way. While any players ejected for fighting would indeed be ineligible for the first round of the NCAA Tournament, players ejected for leaving the bench were still eligible. And so, that meant only Cardoso would be affected.

After receiving some clarification from someone behind the scenes, Lyle and Peck updated the situation as the clock wound down on South Carolina’s victory.

“We need to correct something,” said Lyle. “Only those involved with the fight will not be able to play in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The rest will be able to play. So that would mean Kamilla Cardoso, for South Carolina, not able to. Anyone who came off the bench will not have additional penalties.

“We apologize. We’ve clarified that now.”

It was a heated and wild moment so it’s understandable that the details were flying fast and furious for the ESPN announcing crew. But that incorrect reading of the situation made for some very confused fans and media members watching at home, albeit briefly. Good on them for clarifying quickly, though there’s likely to be some discussions behind the scenes on how to ensure it doesn’t happen next time.

[The Comeback on X, AA on X, ESPN]

About Sean Keeley

Along with writing for Awful Announcing and The Comeback, Sean is the Editorial Strategy Director for Comeback Media. Previously, he created the Syracuse blog Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician and wrote 'How To Grow An Orange: The Right Way to Brainwash Your Child Into Rooting for Syracuse.' He has also written non-Syracuse-related things for SB Nation, Curbed, and other outlets. He currently lives in Seattle where he is complaining about bagels. Send tips/comments/complaints to